Students offer solution to teen drinking |

Students offer solution to teen drinking

BASALT – The presentation was packed with startling statistics – like the tidbit that teenagers drink about 25 percent of the alcohol consumed in the U.S.The consequences were portrayed as dire – like the increased tendency for people to engage in unprotected sex and experiment with drugs if they start drinking at a young age.But it wasn’t a typical meeting where adults lectured teens about the evils of alcohol. This time, at a gathering in Basalt last week, the grim picture was described by a boy in a “Billabong” T-shirt and baggy, saggy blue jeans, and a girl with a small diamond stud in her nose.A dozen or so juniors from Basalt High School tossed out the grim statistics to the Basalt Town Council, then challenged midvalley residents to help them combat teen drinking in the town.”When I ask kids around school why are you drinking, they say there’s nothing to do,” J.T. Donovan told the council. He said he personally finds that hard to believe, but it shows that midvalley teens need something more than the bowling alley and movie theater to keep them occupied.The teens think a youth center will do the trick. They don’t want a big, fancy building with paid staff and organized programs, said Matt Hobbs. They simply want a place to “hang out,” hold an occasional dance and show movies, said Rob Jeffery.Their center would be for students ages 13 to 20, according to Travis Whitmire. A modest entry fee of $2 or $3 would be charged. Kids would be asked to sign a contract stating that they wouldn’t drink alcohol until they are at least 21 years old, Whitmire said.”We know this won’t stop teen drinking,” said Jamie Wirkler. But requiring the contract could prevent teens who haven’t started drinking from taking that first sip, he said.Youth centers are notorious for sounding great in concept, being popular at first then getting abandoned. But Hobbs said the key to keeping it a cool place to hang out is to keep it low-key and informal.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism